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|September 23, 1999||
Advani criticises Election Commission's conduct as 'very disappointing'
In what is probably the strongest attack yet on the Election Commission's conduct of the polls in Bihar, Union Home Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani today said its role had been "very disappointing" and left a lot to be desired.
Reacting for the first time to Defence Minister George Fernandes's charge of excess ballot papers being printed for the Nalanda and Barh Lok Sabha constituencies in Bihar, Advani told the STAR News channel in an exclusive interview that the Intelligence Bureau had not submitted any report on the matter.
Referring to the controversy about the IB director giving Fernandes a report making the charge, Advani said the IB had stated in court that it had not submitted any such report. Neither had Fernandes claimed to have been given the report by the IB, he clarified.
While refusing to comment further on the war of words between the commission and Fernandes, Advani went ahead and slammed the EC, saying its conduct of the election had been "very disappointing" and left a lot to be desired.
"You can dismiss fears expressed by the BJP or the Janata Dal (U), but you cannot disregard apprehensions, not just apprehensions but kind of allegations [of wrongdoing], made by a person who has been chief justice of the state and is today the governor," Advani said. Earlier this week, Governor B M Lal had apprised the President of the electoral violence and law-and-order situation in Bihar.
The country expects the Election Commission to do much more to ensure that the election is truly free and fair, Advani said.
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